Note: See Ramsgate, KwaZulu-Natal for a town in South Africa.

OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Region:South East England
Ceremonial County:Kent
Traditional County:Kent
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:RAMSGATE
Dialling Code:01843

Template:GBdot Ramsgate as a name has its earliest reference as Hraefn's ate, or cliff gap, later to be rendered 'Ramisgate' or 'Remmesgate' around 1225 and 'Ramesgate' from 1357.

Ramsgate as an English seaside town on the Isle of Thanet in East Kent was one of the great English seaside towns in the 19th century and is a member of the ancient confederation of Cinque ports. (Population: 1989 estimate 38,200). Other notable towns in Thanet are Birchington, Westgate, Broadstairs and Margate, with Ramsgate being the most southerly. The present population of the Isle of Thanet is about 250,000. In Roman times the Isle of Thanet was separated from the English mainland by a stretch of water (the Wantsum channel) but it subsequently silted up and is barely navigable.

Ramsgate's main industries are tourism and fishing, and there is some light industry. The town caters extensively for students of EFL, (English as a foreign language) at its colleges. The town has two notable churches. The first building used for worship in the Thanet parish of 'St Lawrence' dedicated to St Lawrence was at St Lawrence-in-Thanet and built in the 12th century to be again rebuilt in the 13th. The most august and distince surviving St Augustine's was designed by Augustus Pugin in 1847 in the neo-Gothic style. Its dedication commemorates Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury, who landed at Ramsgate in AD 596 and brought Christianity to Britain.


Ramsgate's Royal Harbour

Missing image
Ramsgate harbour

The construction of Ramsgate Harbour was begun in 1749 but not finally completed until about 1850. Ramsgate Harbour has the unique distinction of being the only Royal Harbour in the United Kingdom, King George 4th having awarded the title following his successful visit with the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1821.

The full benefits of its development were to become apparent, in particular with regard to the shelter it could offer from the effect of storms and its close proximity to the Goodwin Sands. The Harbour is now the site of one of the largest and most thriving marinas on the UK south coast with Trans Europa Ferries (http://www.transeuropaferries.com) passenger and freight ferries frequently sailing to Ostend in Belgium.

Ramsgate maritime

It is evident from many accounts of local sea rescues that the Ramsgate tugboats, whilst undertaking salvage work were also able to assist with the saving of lives. The Tugmen performed many a noteworthy task in this regard, either alone or by co-operation with the Lifeboats, which they would regularly tow to the scene of an imminent disaster to stand off whilst the smaller craft would attend.

A Lifeboat station was established at Ramsgate as early as 1802, its first Lifeboat having been built for the Trustees of the Harbour by the Lifeboat pioneer Henry Greathead. Half a Century later however, during which time the station had been closed for 28 years, a new Ramsgate Lifeboat, the 'Northumberland' appeared there in 1851. The Lifeboat was named in honour of the Lifeboat sponsor the then Duke of Northumberland. The new and prized boat had been built in accordance with the plans of a model that had been the prize-winner in the 1851 national competition for the best design for such a craft.

It was in the summer of 1824 that Captain K. Martin, then the Harbour Master at Ramsgate instituted the proceedings of the first ever known cricket match on the Goodwin Sands, at low water. Such was the tenacity of local mariners, a tradition sprung up that survives to this day, whereby those so inclined make the journey to the Sands for a leisurely few hours in pursuit of this very English past-time.

In 1859 Jerimiah Walker (having previously distinguished himself by his humane, zealous and successful efforts in rescuing the Master and the crew of the Northern Belle), as a seaman of the lugger "Petrel" assisted in the rescue of the crew of the Spanish vessel the "Julia", which had become stranded off Ramsgate. For this assistance he was awarded a medal struck on the Authority of Queen Donna Isabella II of Spain, thus Walker is believed to be if not the only, then one of the few men ever to have received two separate medals issued by different Heads of State.

On New Years Day 1861 an event at sea of considerable loss of life occurred with the wreck of the 'Guttenburg'. Then, as now, without a doubt, by far the most hazardous area around the Kent coastline to any navigator was the most notorious Goodwin Sands.

Electric Tramways & Lighting Co. Ltd.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Isle of Thanet saw the introduction of about 11 miles of track, laid down for the use of the Electric Tramways & Lighting Co. Ltd. which began its service with a series of electric trams on 4th April 1901, linking the towns of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs. On the 3rd of August 1905, an unseasonably wet summer's day, Car No. 41, during a routine descent of the precipitous, and adverse camber leading down Madeira Walk hill into Ramsgate harbour, suddenly careered out of control, jumping the tracks, causing it to crash straight through the railings, so that it then dropped over the 30 foot cliffs edge adjacent. Providentially, only a few passengers were travelling on Car No. 41 that day, and they came out of the ordeal unscathed, but the driver, who was new to the job, sustained some injury. The Electric Tramways & Lighting Co. Ltd. continued to operate with no further significant incidents recorded until its services were replaced with the buses of the East Kent Road Car Co, which began on the 27th of March, 1937.

Ramsgate at war

Because of its proximity to mainland Europe, Ramsgate was a chief embarkation point both for the Dunkirk evacuation and during the Napoleonic Wars. 4,200 ships left Ramsgate Harbour to rescue men from the Dunkirk beaches during World War 2.

On May 24th 1990, the 50th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk was remembered when some 80 of the original 'little ships' gathered at Dover and Rmsgate to repeat the now historic crossing of the channel. Only six out of this fleet had any difficulties, but were assisted by others in the flotilla.

One of these little ships was the first Motor lifeboat stationed of Ramsgate which was named the 'Prudential' and had arrived on station by 1926. During World War II the Ramsgate lifeboat and crew were called out 60 times, greatly distinguishing themselves with the saving of 170 lives, in addition to the men brought back from Dunkirk: (Jeff Morris).

One of the Dunkirk 'little ships' still moored at Ramsgate and open to the public is the Motor Yacht Sundowner, (built 1912) once the private yacht of the second officer of the Titanic, C.H. Lightoller, whom surviving that fatal wreck later insisted personally at being at the helm during the evacuation of Dunkirk. He succeeded in bringing home 127 members of the 'Expeditionary Forces' in just one trip.

After these events 42,783 soldiers were transported from Ramsgate railway station, carried by 82 southern rail special trains, the second busiest station during the evacuation, next to Dover, which carried over 180,000 men moved by 327 trains.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II the local council decided to enlarge the existing tunnels under the town as a public air-raid shelter - and after the war started the national government finally gave permission to spend the money - it was built and used a lot during the raids. See the Subterranea Britannica (http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/sites/r/ramsgate_air_raid_shelter_and_scenic_railway/index.shtml) website for mote details.

Modern Times

Something almost amounting to a tradition for industrial militancy may be found in the history pages of Ramsgate. Such an occasion happened in the August of 1920 when following a decision by the Ramsgate corporation to sell 1000 tons of locally produced coke to Denmark, set of what became known as the 'coke riot'. It was unfortunate perhaps that these shipments were to be transported by two German ships, the first world war still fresh in local minds. Massive police protection of the harbour was required, but this did not prevent local people from venting their displeasure upon the local authorities.

Ramsgate, during the 1984 National Union of Mineworkers Strike, became the focus of media attention with several blockades of the Harbour by the coalmen of the nearby colleries, which had until then supported a sizable workforce throughout Thanet.

Ramsgate was also the original location of the pressure group Critical Mass, which began its days in opposition to the government of Margaret Thatcher, often in support of the NUM. Critical Mass was founded in 1984 as a result of regulations that prevented local inhabitants out of work from living in the then-numerous empty hotels desperate for trade. The BBC made a documentary about these events, which was named Red Herrings, and broadcast on BBC2 in 1985.

Air links

The town is situated directly under the flight path of Kent International Airport at Manston. A new lost-cost airline EuJet has started frequent flights to many European destinations, replacing a large freight operator.

Externals link:


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